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Nordic centre progressing

But needs community support



Right now the Whistler Nordic Centre, site of the 2010 Nordic events – ski jumping, Nordic combined, cross-country, biathlon, Paralympic cross-country, Paralympic biathlon – is not much to look at. Some of the spaces required for buildings have been cleared, and a rough road to the site has been built. Most of the cross-country skiing trails have been flagged as well, with some brushing through the corridors.

There is no question that the facilities will be delivered to meet Olympic and Paralympic specifications, and will be delivered by 2007 to begin hosting test events, says John Aalberg, the Director of Nordic Sports for the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC).

"We have the budget for it, it’s going to happen," he said.

But it takes more than a facility to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games and all of the events before and after the Games that VANOC has committed to. According to Aalberg you need people who know the sports to help as officials and volunteers, and you need strong local clubs to help develop and recruit those volunteers.

Aalberg spoke at the Whistler Nordic club’s annual general meeting on Saturday, Nov. 19, giving members an update on the current status of the Nordic centre and discussing ways the club can be more involved.

"My advice is to be part of this from beginning to the end, it’s something you will remember for the rest of your lives," he said. "What we can do now is to push it and do all we can to make sure it’s a great legacy for Whistler, Vancouver and the whole Nordic community."

Aalberg should know. As an athlete he competed in the 1992 and 1994 Olympic Winter Games. Norwegian by birth before becoming an American citizen, in 1997 he joined the Salt Lake Organizing Committee where he helped to design and develop the Soldier Hollow cross-country and biathlon venues, and directed all 2002 Nordic events. Part of the success of those events comes from the capacity that Aalberg developed within the local clubs, which continue to run the facility today.

He joined VANOC this past February, and in recent weeks has been meeting with Nordic clubs and provincial sport organizations to find out what their capacity is, and how they can work together to deliver test events and provide support for the Games. After the Games, those organizations will be responsible for ensuring that the facility becomes a working legacy through the Whistler Legacy Society, which "has not been created yet, but will be this winter," said Aalberg.

"In my experience I’ve found that it’s easy to deliver the Games, you have the money and your standards and the things have to get built," said Aalberg. "It’s much harder to create a legacy.